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Meditation: Cleansing of the Mind

By on April 22, 2013
Girl Meditating Outside

Meditation is widely talked about in our world today with results from decreasing anxiety to taking care of physical symptoms related to chronic illnesses. What exactly makes up meditation, though? When it comes down to it, the basic concept is a being in a state of relaxation and finding inner peace.

Components to Meditation

There are four components that help make up this process.

Location:  A quiet location is desired for the lack of distractions it holds. Beginners benefit from this type of atmosphere.

Posture:  There are different ways to position yourself as you meditate depending on what feels most comfortable to you. Examples include sitting in a chair, crossing your legs, standing, or even lying down on your back.

Attention:  Along with different positions, different focuses are used as well. This could range from focusing on your breath, an object, or a repeated word.

Attitude:  This is a key factor with meditation. As life comes and goes, so do distractions. While meditating, it’s important to not force these distractions away. Let them go naturally and gently refocus your attention.

Types of Meditation

With those as the basics, we can find that there are a variety of meditations we can choose from as well.

Guided Meditation:  This type can be guided by a teacher. Situations or places are imagined in which they find relaxing, and they try to use their senses while doing so.

Mindful Meditation:  This is a more aware approach where you bring your attention to the experience itself. Observations of thought are made without any struggle to get rid of them.

Tai Chi:  Chinese martial arts are used with poses that embrace gracefulness. Deep breathing is also performed in this type of meditation.

Transcendental: This is done by quietly repeating a word or sound in which we call a mantra. Focus is given to the mantra while letting go of your thoughts, bringing attention only to whatever you’re repeating.

How Does Meditation Work?

It works in two ways. First, the activity in your sympathetic nervous system is slowed down. The sympathetic nervous system is what readies your body for emergency action, also known as “fight or flight”. When this happens, you heart rate and breathing skyrocket, causing blood flow to restrict.

Two, it heightens the activity in your parasympathetic nervous system. This goes hand in hand with the decreasing of the previous nervous system. Your heart rate and breathing become slower, and your blood flow is improved in the process.

Benefits of Meditation

While it’s easy to see that it results in making you feel more calm and relaxed, it also does so much more.

Studies show that if you meditate for 8 weeks for 30 minutes per day, changes will occur in your brain matter. The matter associated with your learning and memory is increased in density, and the matter linked with your anxiety and stress levels is decreased in density.

These occurrences also provide other results. A 2007 study showed that using meditation can lead to longer attention spans. In 2009, a study stated that blood pressure was also lowered.

What’s to Lose?

Absolutely nothing. Meditation has many uses to improve your life. It’s used for helping depression, insomnia, stress, anxiety, and both physical and mental symptoms that come from chronic illnesses. As shown, taking just a little bit of time during the day to meditate can do wonders for you. It’s worth every moment.

Sources:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/how-meditation-may-change-the-brain/
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/04/13/meditation-can-bring-health-benefits-and-aid-function-aging-brains-research-suggests/FmMX72sGx4mIRDzxArkUaO/story.html

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